Hollywood writers struck a deal with the representatives of movie and television studios, averting a strike that could have left millions of viewers without their favourite TV shows and soaps.

Members of the Writers Guild of America and supporters hold signs during a strike outside the Fox studios along the Avenue of the Stars in Los Angeles, California. November 9, 2007. (File photo)
Members of the Writers Guild of America and supporters hold signs during a strike outside the Fox studios along the Avenue of the Stars in Los Angeles, California. November 9, 2007. (File photo)

The dispute between the 9,000-member Writers Guild of America (WGA) and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) has finally ended. Both sides have agreed on a tentative deal, according to a union negotiator.

The three-year agreement which requires approval by the WGA was confirmed by the guild as well as the producers' spokesman Jarryd Gonzales, after the contract expired early Tuesday. The guild was demanding higher pay for TV writers and bigger contributions to the union health fund. Over 90 percent of its members were ready to go on strike.

The agreement spares the late-night shows that would have gone dark without the witty humour and banter provided by writers. It also allows the networks to carry on with their schedules for the upcoming TV season without any disturbance, and includes a 15-percent increase in pay television residuals, Variety.com reported.

Billy Ray of the Writers Guild of America broke the news on his twitter account.

The two sides had been negotiating since March 13.

The Guild says its members, who are paid per episode, had suffered 23 percent drop in earnings in the past three years and wanted higher pay per episode and royalties for reruns.

Had there been no agreement, the WGA would have called for a work stoppage and protests at the big TV and movie studios.

The members of WGA took part in Monday's May Day march in downtown Los Angeles, in support of workers rights and union solidarity.

The two sides had imposed a media blackout on the talks, centred on the revolution in the television industry with the arrival of streaming services like Netflix and Amazon, and a sharp decline in the number of episodes from around 22 to 10.

The AMPTP represents entertainment giants Comcast Corp, Walt Disney Co, CBS Corp, Viacom Inc, Time Warner Inc and Twenty-First Century Fox Inc, which control TV and movie production in the United States.

In 2007 and early 2008, a 100-day writers strike halted production on numerous shows that led to a shortened television season and even affected major film releases. According to the Milken Institute, the strike cost the California economy $2.1 billion.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies